It is alleged that these welcomed, cherished little beauties are all but reminders of a bloody war.  The Anglo – Boer War. Between 1899 and 1902, the Orange Free State bore witness to many battles on plain and hill.  Farms burnt to the ground, cattle and feed seconded to the British Troops and Afrikaner Women and children fleeing for their lives – hidden by their own helpers in caves and even ant hills that been dug out in the veld.  I know one such story.

The horses belonging to the British it is said, was fed with fodder shipped in from South America, and nestling in grass were these seeds, these ‘Kosmos’ seeds.  Once again a bitter time is sweetened by nature, forgiving, enchanting and a testimony to time.  Love the idea of a bloodied land covered with a layer of pretty pink and white flowers. Ok, so the seeds did sort of land, land, but that is not the point. The point is every year, just before the jewels of Autumn lay claim to the grasslands, the river and ‘koppies’ of Gods picnic blanket in the Free State, the saddest of men is cheered by the confetti of Kosmos.

Everyone has to stop the car.  We also have to stop the car.  Take a picture.  Climb the barbed wire fence to fall deeper into the kosmos to make angels, to get the picture.  Some stand, some squat, peer over the tallest, pose beside the smallest – the side of the road is flower photograph ‘bedondered’.  Ag dis lekker – as a little girl, having to do the ‘road trip’,  it was these indescribable multitudes that had me at happy.  The tradition never changes and last year, to say our final farewell to Ouma Sarie, there they were, after hours driving from OR Tambo and  flying in from London, along the side of the road … wait … look in the field … look up the koppie … in the ditches.  Carpets of beauty. Must stop, must get the photo op … out kids … come along …what?

Mom, don’t be lame, just flowers and I’m not getting out here … it’s too quiet … I’m tired … why?

Ag, sometimes you just need to feel that pit in your stomach joy all on your own. We will not talk of the war … but I do need to see this picture again.

p/c hougaardmalan


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